Prepare the Way of the Lord!

A Message from 1971 1971 was the year of the Synod of Bishops’ statement Justice in the World – and the year of the musical Godspell. Based on the gospel of Matthew, its opening song reflects this year’s gospel reading for the second Sunday of Advent. Colleen Hewitt sang in the Australian production of Godspell. Here is footage from 1971 of her singing a medley of Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord / Day by Day Justice in the World was the first Catholic Social Teaching document to acknowledge that the Church must witness to justice in its own life in order to be credible when calling for justice in the world. Forty five years later, justice within the Church remains a task and a challenge. During the second week of Advent, we can reflect on how we are contributing to making the life of the Church more just. We can also prepare the way of the Lord by being more credible witnesses to the Gospel in our own lives. Peace on Earth Traditionally, we focus on peace in the second week of Advent. So we might take up the particular challenge of becoming better witnesses to Gospel nonviolence.

Season of Creation 2016

World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation In 2015 Pope Francis asked Catholics to join with the Orthodox Church to celebrate the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. It is celebrated on 1 September. Other Christian churches have joined them in it for a number of years. The day is now an annual event in the Catholic Church. As Pope Francis explains, it is a “significant occasion for prayer, reflection, conversion and the adoption of appropriate lifestyles.” Read his message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation here. Now Pope Francis is asking Catholics to join in the Season of Creation 2016. A Catholic Season of Creation 2016 Pope Francis is building on the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation by inviting Catholics to join in celebrating the Season of Creation. The idea of celebrating a Season of Creation began in the Lutheran Church in Adelaide, Australia in 2000. Now it is celebrated by many different churches all over the world. The season embraces the four Sundays of September before the Feast of St Francis of Assisi – 4 October. Norman Habel explains: “The season of Creation offers an opportunity for churches to introduce new visual elements into their worship and to be ecumenical and connected with creation in a particular context.” Read more about the history of the Season of Creation here. Catholic Resources Year C The Columban Mission Institute’s Centre for Peace, Ecology and Justice provides excellent resources for the Season of Creation for Catholic congregations and schools. They include prayer, reflection and action ideas and are linked to the readings in the Catholic lectionary. Download Catholic resources for the Season of Creation 2016 here. More on Catholic Teaching Find out more about Catholic teaching on integral ecology here. Learn about Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ on the care of our common home here. Watch Pope Francis’ Video Pope Francis invites us to pray for the care of creation on 1 September and to take action during the Season of Creation. What action will you take between 1 September and 4 October?

Integral Ecology

Environmental Concern or Integral Ecology? The Catholic Social Teaching theme of integral ecology is becoming more urgent and important. Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’, on care for our common home, stresses that everything is connected. This means that our approach to ecology must be holistic. Ecology goes beyond care for the natural environment. It embraces the vast network of relationships between all that is. Integral ecology requires “an integrated approach to combatting poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.” (LS n 139) “…genuine care for our own lives and our relationships with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice and faithfulness to others.” (Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, n 70) Causes & Responsibility Of course we must all take personal responsibility for our impact on the rest of creation. But the deeper causes of environmental problems usually lie beyond personal behaviour. These causes are connected to models of development, production and consumption. The poorest people and most disadvantaged communities often suffer the most from the consequences of environmental problems. They may have fewer choices to avoid contributing to environmental problems. Poverty can be both a cause and a consequence of ecological problems. As the Australian Bishops say: “Policies which deal equitably and effectively with how we develop our natural resources for economic and social development, while working to address land salination, the degradation of rivers, fair distribution of water, global warming and prudent management of fragile ecosystems are part of caring for God’s created world, including humanity. Australia’s future prosperity is closely linked with how well we care for our ecosystems and how effectively we transition to sustainable practices.” (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Vote for the Common Good: Election Statement 2013) Human Creatures “We are part of nature, included in it and thus in constant interaction with it. Recognizing the reasons why a given area is polluted requires a study of the workings of society, its economy, its behaviour patterns, the way it grasps reality.” (Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, n 139) Human beings are part of creation, not outside of it. The work of nurturing the human ecology of our communities is deeply linked with our thinking about development, and our relationship with the rest of creation. Social inclusion and economic sustainability are interrelated. Integral ecology calls us to understand our place as part of God’s creation and our responsibility for this planet, which is our common home. Find out More Visit this page for an introduction to Laudato Si’ a link to the full text of the encyclical, and to further resources.